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Interview with Irepress

img  Tobias Fischer

When you entered the studio to record „Sol Eye Sea i“, did you already have all the pieces fully mapped out or was there still room for compositional changes? I'm asking, because I'd be curious whether that incredible Cello part in „Diaspora“, for example, was actually intended to be there right from the start or whether the idea came up at a later stage.
Before entering the studio, about 90% of the record was planned out as far as the composition goes. We wrote that specific part with the intentions of having our good friend Bryan Ennis write and perform the cello on it. It was actually 1 of only 2 parts on the record that were recorded to a click track in hopes to possibly perform that cello part live through sampling/click track due to us not being able to tour with a cello player. Most bands these days map out every part to a click map but about 95% of our record was recorded live without a specific tempo in mind, so there was definitely room for change as far as that goes. We have never performed live to a click track so we wanted to make sure that every song had a unique tempo/feel in the studio, but when you are dealing with that specific part electronics and sampling live, you have to think/prepare ahead of time which is what we did for and the song "Billy" which has some electronics mixed with the live instrumentation.

Everyone in the band - for the most part - besides Dino knew exactly what they were going to play once the red light went on. Dino usually likes to keep his guitar parts open, sort of free form on certain parts which definitely drove Daryl Rabidoux a little nuts (laughs). But is definitely an important part of his style of playing.

You mentioned you would have liked to have recorded your previous full-length „Samus Octology“ in a live-setting. Did you go for that approach, then, for „Sol Eye Sea i“?

Samus Octology was recorded with no budget in a tiny basement with little-to-no knowledge of recording almost 7 years ago. We were all in college and couldn't really concentrate on the recording process like we wish we could have. Everyone was at different schools and coming home on weekends to finish it whenever we could and it took us about 3 years to actually finish the writing, recording, mixing, mastering and pressing. We didn't have any label backing at the time, so with having to self manage, fund the record ourselves and get college degrees, we did the best we could with it. I dont even think Shan, Bret or Dino owned guitar tuners when we went in there so it was definitely a learning process. We recorded every instrument separately, drums first, guitars second, which definitely didn't quite capture what our band is really about, so we made sure that "Sol Eye Sea I" was recorded with all of us tracking in the same room – in a live setting. In general, we were much more prepared before entering the studio to record "Sol Eye Sea I," because we wrote it with a consistent rehearsal schedule.

What was the recording process and working with classical musicians like Bryan Ennis like?
I remember being in the tracking room with the rest of the band and just having fun. We never really take ourselves too seriously. We are definitely perfectionists but at the same time there was and always will be a sense of fun in the recording process which keeps us calm when the red light goes on. Bryan Ennis is a good friend of ours and really wanted to execute what we had in mind. He was specific with what he wanted to hear and perform aside from what we had in mind which was great because we let him do his thing and he definitely executed exactly what we wanted. 

A lot of the Guitar parts have a distinct language of their own. How much time goes into finding the right tunings and into shaping the harmonies?
Honestly, I am not really sure. I concentrate mainly on locking in with Shan (bass) and Bret (guitar) usually plays off Shan and I. Like I said, Dino (guitar) has sort of a free form style which always finds its way in the mix to be some of the most unique parts on the record. Jarrett (keys) fills in a lot of sonic space and also adds to the rhythmic element of everything. In general, I think we shape our songs around the rhythmic element more so than the harmonic element. Everything seems to always come together on its own. 

How deeply was Jarret Ring involved in composing „Daniel Sen“?
This song was actually a piano part that Jarrett played on another song of ours that we scrapped. We really liked the part and thought it would be a great piece on its own. He took the part and composed "Daniel Sen."

How do you keep a balance between things that come naturally to you, but may be repetitive and embarking on a journey into unknown territory?
I don't think we really try to sound different. I think it just happens because we really don’t care what everyone else is doing. Like I said a lot of bands take themselves too seriously especially in a live show setting. We are jokesters and anyone who has seen us live can see us cracking a smile or making weird ass faces to someone else in the band on stage. We are good friends with each other first and foremost and this has somehow allowed us to do what we are most comfortable with doing opposed to listening to any outsiders on what they might want or suggest us to do. Since we have such a wide variety of musical influences amongst each other, we tend to journey into unknown territories, which can sometimes question listeners in negative ways as in "What the fuck is this band trying to do?" Our response is "have fucking fun."

What does the decision making process look like for you, with pieces that could potentially go anywhere?
Everyone in the band offers suggestion as far as arrangement goes. The only thing that challenged the democracy was the length of the songs. It’s a challenge because we try not to put a restriction on where the song can possibly go, but then when we get into a live setting, we can only play a few songs because some of the songs, especially on our latest record are long. Daryl Rabidoux was more of a man of sonics rather than arrangement. He let us do our own thing with the arrangements and he just made sure all of the tones and performances were on point. 

Apart from the songs, „sound“ seems especially important on „Sol Eye Sea i“. Are „texture“ and „timbre“ just as important as songs and riffs to you?

Yes, for me personally, there are certain parts on the record that I played with a certain dynamic level to achieve a specific timbre with the drums and cymbals. For example, Daryl made me put tape on the bottom of my China cymbal (to deaden it) because he thought it was too loud for the recording setting, but  the timbre of that cymbal and the overall texture of the parts that I chose to use the china cymbal on, called for the aggression. I listened to Daryl, and still to this day, I wish I didn't listen to him and kept the tape off the bottom of that cymbal because it definitely didn't display the same power as it does normally without that stupid fucking tape on the bottom of it. So, again, yes, timbre on certain things is a very important thing to me personally and I would say it's the same speaking for the rest of the band. I still love Daryl.

The press release characterises the album as „schizophrenic, aggressive rock“ – I actually thought it was quite dreamy, but probably it is both. How important is it, to you, that even despite displaying some raw energy, listeners can actually immerse themselves into your pieces?

The press release characterizes the album truthfully. It's definitely schizophrenic, aggressive but you're right, it is definitely dreamy as well. We are fans of heavy music but I think we are bigger fans of beautiful music outside the heavy music world and this definitely comes into play sonically. The music has depth which is why I think listeners are able to immerse themselves in it. I also can understand why a listener would not have the patience for the latest record, due to it's schizophrenic characteristics.

When will Irepress finally record a cover version of that song you love so much – Hall & Oates' „Maneater“?

Hmmm... probably never, but we are talking about covering "Human Nature" by Michael Jackson.

Keep me posted!

By Tobias Fischer

Image by Dasha Titlebaum

Irepress Discography:

Samus Octology (Translation Loss) 2007
Sol Eye Sea i (Translation Loss / Make My Day) 2010

Irepress at MySpace

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